[German]Microsoft has announced the next Windows 10 feature update to version 21H2 on July 15, 2021. This is supposed to be generally released in the second half of 2021 – I assume in October. Currently, the first preview is available for Windows Insiders to test. The new version will again be distributed as a small feature update. In addition, an LTSC version based on 21H2 with five years of support and an IoT version with 10 years of support are planned. Here is an overview of what is known.
The announcement of the Windows 10 21H2 was made by John Cable, Vice President, Program Management, Windows Servicing and Delivery in Microsoft's Windows blog. There, Cable states that they are now at 1.3 billion monthly active Windows 10 systems. And Microsoft continues to plan new developments for this base, which will not end until Windows 10 support ends in 2025.
Few new features in 21H2
Feedback from its customers has led Microsoft to the insight to focus on the fields of productivity, administration and security. Therefore, only a few innovations for Windows 10 are to be introduced with the 21H2.
- Windows 10 21H2 adds support for the WPA3 H2E standard, which is supposed to provide improved Wi-Fi security.
- Microsoft also screws with the password-less Hello login technology (e.g. via fingerprint sensor or camera). The deployment for Windows Hello for Business is to be improved so that the technology is ready for use within a few minutes after delivery.
- In addition, Microsoft is expanding the support for GPU computing. Both indows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) and Azure IoT Edge for Linux on Windows (EFLOW) are said to be able to draw on graphics chip support for compute-intensive tasks. Microsoft cites features for machine learning and other compute-intensive workflows. However, Hyper-V and WSL2 must be installed to use this feature.
In the blog post, Microsoft also confirmed that Windows 10 21H2 will only be distributed as a minor feature update for machines running Windows 10 from version 2004 to 21H1. That is, these versions will receive the new features with the regular updates in the coming months. Upon general release of 21H2, a so-called enablement update (a few hundred KBytes in size, will then be distributed via Windows Update. This update then enables the features in question.
However, Microsoft is keeping quiet about the exact release date and talks about the second half of 2021. That could mean immediately until the end of the year. Due to the required lead time and the fact that the first Insider Preview is available, I would guess October 2021 as the release date.
18/30 months support and LTSC variant
In terms of 21H2 support with updates, nothing changes from previous versions. Windows 10 Home and Pro will get the usual 18 months of update support, after which they will need to be updated to 22H1 with the next feature upgrade. For Windows 10 21H1 Enterprise and Education, Microsoft provides over 30 months of updates. They probably didn't want to adopt the longer update cycles of Windows 11 in Windows 10.
In the context of the blog post, John Cable also let it be known for the first time that an LTSC version of Windows 10 Enterprise based on 21H1 is planned. However, Microsoft will announce details at a later date. However, it is clear that this LTSC version will only receive support with updates for five years and will be removed from support in 2026. Microsoft had already announced this in February 2021 (see Windows 10 LTSC: Next version with reduced 5 years support). Those who still need the 10 years of support for their deployment scenarios should focus on the Windows 10 IoT Enterprise 21H2 LTSC, which was also briefly mentioned in the announcement.
Windows 10 21H2 Insider Preview available
If you want to test the innovations already now, you can install the first preview of Windows 10 21H2 as a Windows Insider. However, since Microsoft is also testing Windows 11 with Windows Insiders, a special channel is required. The required update KB5004296 will only be rolled out to machines that have moved from the Beta Channel to the Release Preview Channel in the Windows Insider Program (systems that don't support Windows 11 from the prerequisites have been automatically moved to this channel). The Beta Channel, on the other hand, distributes Windows 11 builds to machines with the necessary hardware prerequisites. The description of update KB5004296 lists the fixes made by Microsoft for 21H1, build 19044.1147.
To get the preview of Windows 10 21H2 as an Insider in the Release Preview Channel, users need to go to the Settings page, navigate to Update & Security and then to Windows Update. On the page, the update search has to be triggered and once the feature update to Windows 10 21H2 is offered, the link to download and install it has to be selected. Again, nothing changes from the previous procedure.
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